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Species identification and sibship assignment of sympatric larvae in the yucca moths Tegeticula synthetica and Tegeticula antithetica (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae)


Christopher S. Drummond, Fax: (208) 885 7905; E-mail:


Ecological interactions between yucca moths (Tegeticula, Prodoxidae) and their host plants (Yucca, Agavaceae) are exemplary of obligate plant–pollinator mutualism and co-evolution. We describe a multiplex microsatellite DNA protocol for species identification and sibship assignment of sympatric larvae from Tegeticula synthetica and Tegeticula antithetica, pollinators of the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). Bayesian clustering provides correct diagnosis of species in 100% of adult moths, with unambiguous identification of sympatric larvae. Sibship assignments show that larvae within a single fruit are more likely to be full-sibs or half-sibs than larvae from different fruit, consistent with the hypothesis that larval clutches are predominantly the progeny of an individual female.